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HomeHikingStone Mountain Climbing Information - Unusual Path – An REI Co-op Publication

Stone Mountain Climbing Information – Unusual Path – An REI Co-op Publication

Stone Mountain

With choices for tenting, boating and lots of extra out of doors actions throughout 3,200 acres, Stone Mountain Park is a well-liked vacation spot for out-of-town guests and metro Atlanta residents alike. The park averaged practically 4 million guests a yr pre-pandemic, making it Georgia’s hottest vacationer attraction. A lot of these guests come for the theme park points of interest—the Skyride, laser present or prepare journey across the mountain—however out of doors fanatics have loads of nature-based actions to select from as nicely. The park prices a per-vehicle charge for entrance, however there isn’t a cost for strolling or biking in. 

Whereas Stone Mountain Park is stuffed with choices for out of doors recreation, it’s necessary to acknowledge the park’s contentious historical past. First-time guests might already be acquainted with the controversial carving of three Accomplice leaders etched onto the north aspect of Stone Mountain. It’s the largest aid sculpture on the planet. Outdated and new guests alike could also be stunned to search out the Accomplice references don’t cease there. The streets contained in the park are additionally named for Accomplice Military generals, together with Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Accomplice flags fly alongside the park’s hottest path, and Venable Lake contained in the park is known as after a household with well-documented Ku Klux Klan ties. Some individuals argue the park paperwork Southern historical past, however many others name it the biggest shrine to white supremacy on the planet. This information will present data on every path inside Stone Mountain Park that’s obtainable for mountaineering, adopted by a quick park historical past. 

The view of Stone Mountain from across Venable Lake.
Stone Mountain Park

Climbing Trails 

Most individuals jog, stroll or bike alongside the paved sidewalk or pedestrian avenue that makes a circle across the base of Stone Mountain. It’s an unofficial path because it’s not that’s not proven on any path maps for Stone Mountain Park, however it’s the solely path that’s wheelchair accessible for a majority of its 5-mile loop. Should you’d like the chance to go together with a bunch or have a guided alternative to expertise the opposite park trails and websites, be sure you take a look at one in all REI’s lessons or occasions close to Stone Mountain Park.   

There are 15 extra miles of nature-based mountaineering trails contained in the park that don’t get as a lot foot site visitors because the paved loop. The Stroll-Up Path, the park’s hottest, takes hikers to the second-highest peak within the metro-Atlanta space: Kennesaw Mountain is twice as removed from Atlanta’s metropolis limits, however stands 200 toes taller than Stone Mountain. So, a hiker’s finest guess for mountain views is inside Stone Mountain Park, particularly from the Stroll-Up Path.  

Stroll-Up Path 

  • Size: 2 miles out-and-back 
  • Problem Ranking: Average 
  • Finest For: Panoramic views of north Georgia 
  • Canine: Not allowed  

The Stroll-Up Path, on which hikers can take themselves to the “prime of the rock,” is by far Stone Mountain Park’s hottest path, particularly at dawn. Beginning on the car parking zone close to Accomplice Corridor on the west aspect of the park, the path takes hikers alongside Stone Mountain’s most mild (but regular!) incline. Hikers ought to beware that the stone floor may be slippery, particularly after rainfall. The path will get a bit of steeper close to the highest, however there are rails for individuals who may have additional help. Hikers climb to 1,686 toes above sea degree and, on a transparent day, get 360-degree views, together with a glimpse of downtown Atlanta and the North Georgia mountains. Those that full the 1-mile trek to the highest get to brag that they’ve climbed the biggest piece of uncovered granite on the planet. Accomplice flags have flown close to the bottom of the path for years. There are plans to maneuver them, however to this point, they continue to be. 

Cherokee Path 

  • Size: 5-mile loop 
  • Problem Ranking: Troublesome  
  • Finest For: Nature and historic views 
  • Canine: Leashed  

Circumnavigating the bottom of Stone Mountain by way of a forested path, the Cherokee Path is the longest within the park. The Cherokee Path intersects with the park’s in style Stroll-Up Path, and hikers can mix the 2 for a 7-mile problem. Many of the Cherokee Path gives reasonable mountaineering, however the part on Stone Mountain close to the Stroll-Up Path is steep: Be sure you put on the correct footwear to grip its rocky floor. The path additionally has essentially the most assorted terrain of all of the hikes within the park, with sections that showcase views of the forest, lake and even ruins of a cabin as soon as utilized by college students of the historic Atlanta-area school for girls, Agnes Scott Faculty. Hikers usually run in to deer alongside this path, and people who need to take a look at extra wildlife can take the path extensions to the Songbird Habitat Path or the Nature Backyard Path. You may even see the occasional Boy Scout, Lady Scout or American Heritage Lady making the trek to earn a badge, however hikers usually tend to have most of this path all to themselves. 

Nature Backyard Path 

  • Size: 0.75-mile loop  
  • Problem Ranking: Simple 
  • Finest For: Studying about native vegetation 
  • Canine: Leashed 

This path is for the hikers who commonly cease to take photos of the vegetation and timber they see: The Nature Gardens Path showcases dozens of timber, shrubs and vegetation which are native to Georgia and supplies details about their rising patterns and customary makes use of. Hikers can cease to study every little thing from witch hazel to purple mulberry and decide up just a few concepts for vegetation to develop of their house gardens. This rock-lined filth path can also be a favourite for hikers with leashed canines. A brief connector path will take hikers to the Cherokee Path close to its landmark rock chimney. 

Evergreen Trails 

Hawk Path 

  • Size: 1.5 miles round-trip out-and-back (as much as you, however I deleted round-trip to remain in keeping with one of many above round-trip trails.)
  • Problem Ranking: Average 
  • Finest For: Lake views 
  • Canine: Leashed 

Heron Path 

  • Size: 1-mile loop 
  • Problem Ranking: Average 
  • Finest For: Solitary hikes 
  • Canine: Leashed  

 Bluebird Path 

  • Size: 0.5-mile loop 
  • Problem Ranking: Simple 
  • Finest For: Solitary hikes 
  • Canine: Leashed 

The Evergreen Trails are essentially the most missed trails in Stone Mountain Park as a result of the three quick, interconnected trails are troublesome to search out, and troublesome to comply with, as they’re overgrown in components. The best method to discover them is by heading towards the Atlanta Evergreen Lakeside Resort, a convention heart and lodge situated off Stonewall Jackson Drive. Flip onto Lakeview Drive, then take the primary left into the overflow car parking zone. There, hikers will see a big shed with a stone base and picket prime—the trailhead for all three Evergreen Trails is behind this constructing. The Hawk Path, which edges across the lake, will also be discovered by parking beside the Atlanta Evergreen Lakeside Lodge close to the convention rooms (belief me, this can prevent a stroll!) and strolling down the steps to the service entrance. The gravel street close by will lead hikers to timber blazed with purple to mark the path. All three trails are perfect for hikers who need simple strolls that may doubtless not be interrupted by others, or for individuals staying on the close by lodge who don’t need to enterprise too far.

Songbird Habitat Trails 

  • Size: 2 trails, 1-mile loop every 
  • Problem Ranking: Simple 
  • Finest For: Butterfly and wildflower lovers 
  • Canine: Not allowed 

As its title suggests, the songs of bluebirds and nuthatches welcome hikers to the Songbird Habitat Trails, however the biggest sense of marvel comes from the sphere of wildflowers at the beginning. The fixed buzz of bees (and screeching of cicadas in close by timber) will accompany hikers as they stroll alongside waist-high partridge pea vegetation with their vivid yellow flowers. Hikers can select to remain on the Meadow Path filled with wildflowers or enterprise up the steps to a connecting Woodland Path that gives extra typical, tree-covered foliage. The paths cross at numerous factors, giving hikers a possibility to elongate or shorten the loops to their liking. This space of Stone Mountain Park is the positioning of the archery and biking competitions in the course of the 1996 Summer season Olympic Video games. The again portion of the Woodland Path borders non-public houses which are simply exterior the park.

King’s Path at Indian Island 

  • Size: .75-mile loop 
  • Problem Ranking: Simple 
  • Finest For: Lake views and post-hike picnics 
  • Canine: Leashed 

Earlier than reaching the path’s solely car parking zone, hikers drive throughout the characteristic from which the King’s Path will get its title. Washington King constructed the picket coated bridge that crosses Stone Mountain Lake. King got here from an Atlanta household recognized for his or her distinctive bridge constructing; the household patriarch, Horace King, purchased his freedom in 1846 after setting up a number of coated bridges throughout the southeast. From the car parking zone, hikers can select to go left or proper to start the path that loops round a small island. There are many locations alongside the well-marked path to cease for a relaxation on a big rock and admire the serenity of the lake. End your hike with lunch on one of many many picnic tables close to the trailhead.

Mvskoke En’nenuce (Path of the Muscogee) 

  • Size: 1.5-mile loop 
  • Problem Ranking: Average 
  • Finest For: Assorted forest and lake views 
  • Canine: Leashed 

The Mvskoke En’nenuce (Path of the Muscogee) could possibly be simply missed whereas driving close to Stone Mountain Park’s east gate. It’s the one path on the north aspect of the mountain in an space of the park not usually utilized by pedestrians. Nevertheless, it’s definitely worth the effort to search out this trailhead in a small gravel lot on Jefferson Davis Highway. The loop path supplies assorted forest and lake views much like the Cherokee Path, however in a extra compact house. The path’s title is written within the Mvskoke Nation’s language after Stone Mountain Park officers secured permission from the Principal Chief of the Muscogee Nation to call the path after them: the unique stewards of the encompassing land. This filth path has two distinct sections: a hilly part that takes hikers alongside a coated forest of pine and hardwood timber alongside the park’s border with Freeway 78, and a serene stroll alongside the shore of Stone Mountain Lake. Look out for protruding roots and rocks on the path subsequent to the lake. Be sure you benefit from the solar’s rays peeking by way of the tree cowl and glistening on the water. 

Three people hike on a rocky trail.
Picture Credit score: Ryan Tuttle

Historical past of the Park 

In line with the e-book Carved in Stone: The Historical past of Stone Mountain, in 1962, an archaeological excavation close to Stone Mountain confirmed that Native individuals from the Mississippian interval lived within the space. Their descendants, members of the Mvskoke (Muscogee) Nation, would go on to reside additional south as Stone Mountain and the encompassing space served as a pure barrier between the Mvskoke and Cherokee Nations within the 1700s. 

Building started on Georgia’s first railroad within the 1830s. Its route by way of the village of Stone Mountain ultimately created a brand new trade for quarrying granite from Stone Mountain within the latter a part of the century. Granite from Stone Mountain has been utilized in every little thing from steps on the U.S. Capitol to locks of the Panama Canal. In 1886, the Southern Granite Firm purchased Stone Mountain, which might ultimately be run by two brothers: William and Sam Venable. 

Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech from 1963 would be the most well-known reference to Stone Mountain: Within the apex of the speech, he known as for freedom to ring in Stone Mountain of Georgia. He was referring to the place the place the Ku Klux Klan had its rebirth in 1915, with a cross burning on prime of Stone Mountain. 

By 1923, Sam Venable gave permission to Atlanta Klan members to carry their annual rallies on prime of Stone Mountain. That very same yr a sculptor started carving Robert E. Lee’s head into the mountain, however the carving of three Accomplice leaders on mounted horses wouldn’t be accomplished till 1972. 

In 1958, the state of Georgia purchased Venable’s land and smaller close by heaps. It opened as a state park in 1965. 

Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer season Olympic Video games, and because the official venue for biking, archery and tennis, Stone Mountain Park leaders tried to melt the park’s Accomplice imagery, together with at one level, juxtaposing a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. on prime of the Accomplice carving on Stone Mountain. 

Enterprise at Stone Mountain Park suffered after the Charleston church taking pictures in 2015. As a way to distance themselves from the white nationalist rhetoric and Accomplice imagery the convicted killer used, a number of organizations that held annual conferences and different occasions on the park took their enterprise elsewhere. The COVID-19 pandemic 5 years later additionally impacted native companies.  

The Stone Mountain Memorial Affiliation, the governing board of the park, has acknowledged in an interview for this text that softening the Accomplice memorabilia across the park may convey enterprise for conferences and different giant gatherings again, however to this point, change has been sluggish. The affiliation accepted a plan to maneuver the Accomplice Flag Plaza, presently on the base of the mountain alongside the Stroll-Up Path, to a brand new space known as Valor Park. A date hasn’t been set for the transfer. 

A park spokesperson says there have been discussions to rename Venable Lake as a result of household’s ties to the Ku Klux Klan. No last selections have been made relating to that or altering the names of the roads honoring Accomplice generals contained in the park, like Robert E. Lee Blvd and Stonewall Jackson Drive.  

Georgia regulation protects the Accomplice carving on Stone Mountain. Georgia code 50-3-1 says: 

“… the memorial to the heroes of the Accomplice States of America graven upon the face of Stone Mountain shall by no means be altered, eliminated, hid or obscured in any style and shall be preserved and guarded forever as a tribute to the bravery and heroism of the residents of this state who suffered and died of their trigger.” 

A number of payments have been launched to the Georgia State Legislature to finish safety for the carving and different Accomplice symbols, however these actions have but to make it out of committee, and due to this fact don’t come near overturning the present regulation. Grassroots efforts to vary the park have raised public consciousness however haven’t resulted in tangible adjustments on the park. 

Some individuals in metro Atlanta actively boycott the park on account of its glorification of the Confederacy whereas others select to get pleasure from it due to its comfort, accessibility, affordability and wonder. Although white nationalist teams have demonstrated contained in the grounds lately, guests from all kinds of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds recreate on the park day by day. 

Regardless of its storied previous and current, Stone Mountain Park stays a favourite vacation spot for locals and vacationers alike. Its lush landscapes, versatile trailheads and enchanting environment invite us all to immerse ourselves within the majesty of outdoor and ponder the half we are able to play within the tales this place will inform going ahead. 

Positive Recharge
Positive Recharge
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